Jay-Z’s Team ROC Helps Student Arrested for Anthem Protest

Jay-Z has leveraged his success in music to social justice such as his aid to a Florida student who was arrested for not pledging allegiance to the flag.

Jay-Z has leveraged his success in music to social justice such as his aid to a Florida student who was arrested for not pledging allegiance to the flag.

By Free Radical

Charges have been dismissed in the case of Jabari Talbot who was arrested in Lakeland, Florida last month for refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance. Jabari’s judicial victory is due in part to the work of Team ROC, the division of rapper mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation empire that assists victims of racial  injustice.

Following the 11 year old’s arrest at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, Team ROC secured the services of heralded attorney Alex Spiro to take on Jabari’s case free of charge.

“Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs,” Spiro said in a statement. “He should’ve never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the 1st Amendment.”

The incident occurred on February 4 when Jabari got into a heated debate with substitute teacher, Ana Alvarez, when he refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance ritual. According to local sources, Jabari cited his reason as “the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people.”

Alvarez subsequently asked why Jabari didn’t leave the country if he did not like America. The preteen responded, “They brought me here.”

Alvarez then contacted the main office about Jabari’s stance. Shortly after the police were called based on claims of Jabari’s disruption and that he allegedly threatened Alvarez with violence.

On March 1, Team ROC announced that the charges against Jabari had been dropped.

After the case was dismissed, Jabari’s mother expressed her gratitude, yet signaled the ordeal was far from over. “My son and I are grateful for all the athletes, entertainers, Roc Nation and community of supporters that have raised awareness about this injustice and showed their support—both publicly and privately […]” she said. “Although Jabari’s case has been dismissed, I do want people to know this isn’t just about my son—this prejudice happens to African-American kids all across the country. The fight isn’t over, which is why I have a civil rights complaint pending with the U.S. Department of Education. At the end of the day, I want to ensure that no child ever has to experience this injustice again and we will appreciate everyone’s continued support.”

Several Florida based athletes who are signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports imprint also lent their support to Jabari during the crisis. Justice Winslow of the Miami Heat described the controversy as an “injustice.” Leonard Fournette of the Jacksonville Jaguars stated, “When I heard about Jabari’s arrest, I immediately had my team reach out so I could offer my support for this unjust moment.” He continued, “Jabari is a bright young student and I applaud him for the strength he has shown during this difficult situation. I know he’s a huge football fan and I’m looking forward to having him come to a Jaguars game this season.”

Team ROC has also helped with other high profile cases of racial injustice such as two Black men who were arrested for wearing hoodies in a Memphis, Tennessee mall and rapper 21 Savage’s legal battle against Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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